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No. 7: Carrie Underwood, ‘Before He Cheats’ – Top Country Songs of the Century

This multi-platinum hit from Carrie Underwood showed a side of the singer that even the most creative fan couldn’t have imagined was there. Suddenly, she was a bad girl. “Before He Cheats” set up numerous hits that would follow. It’s a seminal song for one of the most important female artists of the 21st century.

Country fans love a good revenge song, and this 2006 country hit didn’t hide intent. Unlike later hits like “Church Bells,” there was no being coy about what happened to the antagonist. If he’d walked out as her character was beating his car with a Louisville Slugger, he might have gotten a taste of it, as well. In less than three months this song soared to No. 1 and then began a run on pop and adult contemporary formats.

Grammys, ACM and CMA Awards would follow. The song was probably more important for Underwood than it was the format, but having her as a staple to rely on over the last decade has value that’s difficult to measure. Like so many of the songs inside the Top 10 of this Top Country Songs of the Century list, “Before He Cheats” was a no-doubter. It’s a signature song for the era we live in.

About this list: Taste of Country’s Top Country Songs of the Century were decided by a panel of country music experts and fans using sales and chart data, a song’s social and musical impact and lyrical integrity. Select artists were also surveyed. You’ll hear from several throughout the list.

Next: Song No. 6

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